Smart Charging at home – cutting cost and emissions while enabling sustainable mobility

By Dr Alexander Schuller, product manager Smart Charging. 

Electric vehicles (EVs) provide a vital element for sustainable and emission-free mobility. To this end, they must be charged with renewable energy. In the best case, they are charged with PV energy right where they park most of the time: at home. EVs also offer demand flexibility that can be valuable for the power system. In the following paragraphs, we provide an introduction to Smart Charging and GreenCom’s view on it.

With the technology shift in transportation and the energy transition in full steam, opportunities for sustainable and emission-free mobility open. Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to have impressive growth rates – especially in Europe, but also worldwide – and are no longer a niche phenomenon [IEA EV Outlook, 2022]. Additionally, recent political developments have increased the awareness on fossil-fuel dependency and shown the need for a cleaner, quieter, and more efficient mode of transport. The stage for clean mobility is set.

However, electric mobility can only fulfil its promise if the energy used for charging is provided by sustainable and emission-free energy sources. Decentral generation in the residential sector, such as photovoltaic (PV) generators, for instance, have the potential to fulfil a large part of that upcoming energy demand.

EVs are – like their conventional counterparts – mostly parked at two locations: the user’s home or the workplace. This results in highly flexible energy demand since parking times often substantially surpass the necessary charging times for daily average driving distances of 35 km (avg. driving distance in Germany, [KBA, 2021]) – given that there is charging infrastructure available. Simply put: Since most EVs’ parking time is longer than the time needed to charge, there is room for flexibility.

Smart Charging at home enables EVs to charge with green electricity and the provision of demand flexibility towards the power grid. Together, these elements push EV adoption as they support sustainable mobility and cut emissions, especially compared to just charging EVs regardless of energy origin or grid constraints.

Smart Charging at home – different flavours of Flexibility

When it comes to flexibility as a part of Smart Charging at home, different objectives can be pursued:

  • Smart Charging can be PV surplus-oriented charging – i.e., aiming at using locally-produced PV energy instead of feeding PV surplus into the power grid.
  • Smart Charging can also be implemented with dynamic load management in order to protect a grid connection point from overload if many large consumers – or several EVs – are concentrated at one site.
  • Smart Charging can follow cost minimization objectives – for given dynamic tariffs – starting from simple two-step Time of Use (ToU) tariffs and ranging to day-ahead hourly changing prices for electricity
  • Furthermore, Smart Charging can also be utilised to support power system objectives – e.g., the short-term balancing of distribution and transmission grids. This is possible through the aggregation of many electric vehicles in virtual fleets that then are controlled in their charging behaviour – meaning they reduce or increase their charging demand according to grid operator signals.
  • Finally, Smart Charging can be part of a Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) operation strategy, but currently, there are only a few EVs available that support the bi-directional operation of the battery. Also, most of the initial individual and system-related benefits can be harvested without this more complex functionality.
Smart Charging at home. Figure 1 provides a generic overview of the main use cases and the related stakeholders and power system roles. This also shows that Smart Charging can serve many objectives (even though not all at the same time) with respect to the utilisation of the available demand flexibility of electric vehicles.
Figure 1 provides a generic overview of the main use cases and the related stakeholders and power system roles. This also shows that Smart Charging can serve many objectives (even though not all at the same time) with respect to the utilisation of the available demand flexibility of electric vehicles.

Smart Charging at home and where GreenCom Networks fits in

For GreenCom, the focus is to support and implement residential Smart Charging while not only considering mobility needs but also the increasing number of other large loads and energy-relevant assets such as PV storage batteries, heat pumps and thermal electricity loads. This enables end customers to optimise their energy flows in a holistic manner.

GreenCom’s Smart Charging solution is enabled by a set of different technologies and assets that work together to deliver the best possible customer experience. These include:

  • A connectable charger and or an EV with an accessible EV backend connection through which the vehicle state (in particular, the state of charge (SOC) of the vehicle) is available.
  • A PV generator that enables the clean supply of electricity and in most cases also financially highly attractive energy supply.
  • A submeter or main electricity meter with an accessible interface (e.g., optical or p1 port or similar).
  • A scalable energy IoT platform that integrates and optimises the different energy assets and builds on state-of-the-art forecasting and data handling technologies
  • A configurable user frontend that captures the user preferences with respect to the EV utilization. The most important being the required energy by the user and the planned time of departure.

GreenCom focuses on enabling a holistic customer experience for smart charging that considers user preferences and technical asset data while integrating energy-relevant assets, not in a closed eco-system, but in an open and interoperable, and most importantly – reliable way for the customer.

Smart Charging is the next step for green EV mobility

Smart Charging at home brings EV charging to the next level: Not only does it charge EVs with green and sustainable energy and thus taking an important step to emission-free mobility, it also can aid the energy system as a whole by using their demand flexibility to stabilise the grid.

Smart Charging for residential houses can be rolled out at scale, but it can be too complex for mass adoption by users if insufficient or unreliable integrations are used. GreenCom enables tested and integrated Smart Charging for residential use cases that cover the full picture and not only parts of the puzzle.

Further blog articles will address our solution in more detail, technical specifications (e.g. connectivity standards) and economic analyses that matter for the implementation of Smart Charging.

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